Catch the “Age Wave” and the New Senior Adults (Part 1)

There’s a wave coming, and most churches are not ready for the “new seniors.”  This is extremely unfortunate because the United States is about to experience one of the greatest waves of adults retiring and/or reinventing themselves and starting a second or third career based on their lifetime of experiences in the business world.

Baby Boomers are retiring in massive numbers every day and will present great opportunities to churches that haven’t written them off. One thing is for sure: the new seniors won’t look and act like the present senior adults in our churches. Treat the new seniors like your current ones and you’ll lose them fast.

People are living longer these days (during the Roman Empire, average life expectancy was 22 years; in 1900 the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47; by 2050 it is projected that Americans will live to an average age of 89).  Like it or not, our congregations are going to gray.  Only a few churches will be ready for this massive wave of new retirees.  Just how massive is it? Let’s see.

The people known as seniors are actually 3 generations in 1.  “Seniors” were influenced by the Great Depression; “The Greatest Generation” lived through WWII and started families (and the baby boom); the “Silent Generation” were relatively small in number and financially secure.

Here are 10 reasons why you should pay attention to “the new seniors”

  1. Americans age 65+ are the fastest growing segment in the population
  2. The number of Americans 65+ has increased 12-fold (3.1M to 37.9M)
  3. An American turns 60 every 7 seconds; 24 hours from now, 11,520 more adults will have turned 60
  4. The senior segment of the population will double by 2030 (39.6M in 2009 versus 72.09M in 2030)…this is according to the US Census Bureau
  5. The older population grew 18 times as fast as the younger generation between 2000 and 2010 (US Census data)
  6. Centenarians (people living to age 100) will grow from 134,697 in 2020 to 600,909 in 2050;  we are living longer
  7. By 2030, 20% of the US population will be age 65+ (that’s one in 5 Americans)
  8. By 2020, 22% of the workforce will be men age 65+; 14% will consist of women age 65+
  9. 10 states have senior adult populations of over 1M people (California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas)
  10. According to LifeWay Research, for the decade between 2000 and 2010, senior adults are the only group that has ended the decade with a higher number of baptisms than it began with 10 years ago; in fact, the number of baptisms among seniors has been very constant across the years in this past decade (in other words, you can still reach seniors with the gospel).

Do I have your attention yet? If yes, then stay tuned for Part 2 of this series on the new seniors in our churches and how we must adjust in order to meet their needs. The new seniors aren’t going to be like the present group of seniors in our churches. Will we be ready for this new wave of retirees, or will you get wiped out when the wave hits?  Do you think you can continue with your potluck dinners and game nights and reach the new wave of retirees?  You won’t.

Have you written off older adults and focused your ministry on younger adults?  You should rethink your plans! Kids are important. Students are important. Young people are important. So are seniors!

Watch for Part 2 tomorrow.


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